Red Lights (2012)
Sceptical scientists Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Dr Buckley (Cilian Murphy) study and debunk paranormal activity. Their paths then cross with a world-renowned psychic (Robert De Niro) who has resurfaced years after his toughest critic mysteriously passed away……
More of a mystery thriller than a horror film, “Red Lights” manages to be both an entertaining and thought-provoking movie.
The film is primarily held together by the performances of the leads – Sigourney Weaver and Cilian Murphy – who are not just convincing in their roles as paranormal activity “debunkers” but, at times, frankly transcending. Weaver literally lives her role as the ever-sceptical scientist who, underneath the hardy exterior, is doing nothing more than mourning her braindead and hospital-bed-ridden son. Murphy gives a sterling portrayl of a young physicist with mysterious motivations, seemingly wasting his academic potential ‘chasing ghosts’. The dynamic and on-screen chemistry between the two is inspiring to watch and forms the centre-piece of what becomes a first-rate movie.
From the staring pistol, this film had me very interested (the opening credits are very reminiscent of the titles to Hitchcock’s “Psycho (1960)”). The first half of the movie doesn’t disappoint and is really effective, containing not only great scripted dialogue but some interesting plot developments as we follow the story of Weaver and Murphy’s investigations into fraudsters parading themselves as psychics and mediums.
The feel of the movie is quite removed from anything akin to the standard Hollywood psychological thriller, despite the presence of Robert ‘rent-a-star’ De Niro. The look of the film is dark, grimey and TV-movie like (making you feel that the whole thing would be more at home being aired on the SyFy Channel at 3am in the morning).
Nevertheless, about mid-way through, “Red Lights” goes a bit awry because it doesn’t seem to know quite what to do with De Niro’s ‘villain’ character – and for some time it’s as if his character is just hanging around waiting for something to happen. This however can be forgiven because the final act is close to stupendous with a thrilling climax and a battle of wits between Murphy’s investigator and DeNiro’s psychic . Furthermore, the twist at the end of the movie is novel but no gimmick – it’s as close to astonishing as you can get and honestly, very compelling – leaving the audience with a completely alternative and retrospective view of the preceding 113 minutes or so.
Whilst there is nothing truly ground-breaking in “Red Lights”, it’s refreshing to see a movie which treats this subject matter with the respect it deserves. An accomplished script, authoritative cast and trenchant direction sets “Red Lights” apart from similar movies in the genre. I recommend this one.
hotdog rating: 8/10